Gaddafi's fugitive premier jailed for crossing border

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A court in Tunisia jailed Muammar Gaddafi's fugitive former prime minister for six months yesterday for entering the country illegally.

Al-Baghdadi Ali Al-Mahmoudi was arrested with two other people after they were found without visas in the town of Tameghza, near the Tunisian border with Algeria, officials said.

Al-Mahmoudi was not among the former Gaddafi allies being sought by the International Criminal Court. However, he is the most senior member of the regime detained since the government was overthrown by Nato-backed rebels a month ago. He is likely to be handed over to Libya to face investigation, since the government in Tunis recognises the new ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) in Tripoli.

Gaddafi himself and two of his sons are thought to be still on the run or hiding inside Libya, while other relatives have fled to Algeria and Niger. His supporters remain well-armed and fighting is still raging on three fronts in Libya a month after revolutionary forces seized control of the capital.

The Canadian general commanding Nato's mission in Libya said isolated groups of Gaddafi loyalists were still a threat to local people but were unable to coordinate their actions. Lt-Gen Charles Bouchard added that many of Gaddafi's troops were surrounded with no means of escape.